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First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (Anglais) Cassette – Livre audio, 2 juillet 2003

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Descriptions du produit



The Measuring Stick
* A Disaster Off the Scilly Isles
* The Measuring Stick
* Putting the Twelve to the Test
* A Case in Point
* Mountain Climbing

A Disaster Off the Scilly Isles
"What do we know to be important but are unable to measure?"
In the dense fog of a dark night in October 1707, Great Britain lost nearly an entire fleet of ships. There was no pitched battle at sea. The admiral, Clowdisley Shovell, simply miscalculated his position in the Atlantic and his flagship smashed into the rocks of the Scilly Isles, a tail of islands off the southwest coast of England. The rest of the fleet, following blindly behind, went aground and piled onto the rocks, one after another. Four warships and two thousand lives were lost.
For such a proud nation of seafarers, this tragic loss was distinctly embarrassing. But to be fair to the memory of Clowdisley Shovell, it was not altogether surprising. The concept of latitude and longitude had been around since the first century B.C. But by 1700 we still hadn't managed to devise an accurate way to measure longitude -- nobody ever knew for sure how far east or west they had traveled. Professional seamen like Clowdisley Shovell had to estimate their progress either by guessing their average speed or by dropping a log over the side of the boat and timing how long it took to float from bow to stem. Forced to rely on such crude measurements, the admiral can be forgiven his massive misjudgment.
What caused the disaster was not the admiral's ignorance, but his inability to measure something that he already knew to be critically important -- in this case longitude.
A similar drama is playing out in today's business world: many companies know that their ability to find and keep talented employees is vital to their sustained success, but they have no way of knowing whether or not they are effective at doing this.
In their book The Service Profit Chain, James Heskett, W. Earl Sasser, and Leonard Schlesinger make the case that no matter what your business, the only way to generate enduring profits is to begin by building the kind of work environment that attracts, focuses, and keeps talented employees. It is a convincing case. But the manager on the street probably didn't need convincing. Over the last twenty years most managers have come to realize their competitiveness depends upon being able to find and keep top talent in every role This is why, in tight labor markets, companies seem prepared to go to almost any lengths to prevent employees' eyes from wandering. If you work for GE, you may be one of the twenty-three thousand employees who are now granted stock options in the company. Employees of AlliedSignal and Starbucks can make use of the company concierge service when they forget that their mothers need flowers and their dachshunds need walking. And at Eddie Bauer, in-chair massages are available for all those aching backs hunched over computer terminals.
But do any of these caring carrots really work? Do they really attract and keep only the most productive employees? Or are they simply a catch-all, netting both productive employees and ROAD warriors -- the army's pithy phrase for those sleepy folk who are happy to "retire on active duty"?
The truth is, no one really knows. Why? Because even though every great manager and every great company realizes how important it is, they still haven't devised an accurate way to measure a manager's or a company's ability to find, focus, and keep talented people. The few measurements that are available -- such as employee retention figures or number of days to fill openings or lengthy employee opinion surveys -- lack precision. They are the modern-day equivalent of dropping a log over the side of the boat.
Companies and managers know they need help. What they are asking for is a simple and accurate measuring stick that can tell them how well one company or one manager is doing as compared with others, in terms of finding and keeping talented people. Without this measuring stick, many companies and many managers know they may find themselves high and dry -- sure of where they want to go but lacking the right people to get there.
And now there is a powerful new faction on the scene, demanding this simple measuring stick: institutional investors.
Institutional investors -- like the Council of Institutional Investors (CII), which manages over $1 trillion worth of stocks, and the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), which oversees a healthy $260 billion -- define the agenda for the business world. Where they lead, everyone else follows.
Institutional investors have always been the ultimate numbers guys, representing the cold voice of massed shareholders, demanding efficiency and profitability. Traditionally they focused on hard results, like return on assets and economic value added. Most of them didn't concern themselves with "soft" issues like "culture." In their minds a company's culture held the same status as public opinion polls did in Soviet Russia: superficially interesting but fundamentally irrelevant.
At least that's the way it used to be. In a recent about-face, they have started to pay much closer attention to how companies treat their people. In fact, the CII and CalPERS both met in Washington to discuss "good workplace practices...and how they can encourage the companies they invest in to value employee loyalty as an aid to productivity."
Why this newfound interest? They have started to realize that whether software designer or delivery truck driver, accountant or hotel housekeeper, the most valuable aspects of jobs are now, as Thomas Stewart describes in Intellectual Capital, "the most essentially human tasks: sensing, judging, creating, and building relationships." This means that a great deal of a company's value now lies "between the ears of its employees." And this means that when someone leaves a company, he takes his value with him -- more often than not, straight to the competition.
Today more than ever before, if a company is bleeding people, it is bleeding value. Investors are frequently stunned by this discovery. They know that their current measuring sticks do a very poor job of capturing all sources of a company's value. For example, according to Baruch Lev, professor of finance and accounting at New York University's Stern School of Business, the assets and liabilities listed on a company's balance sheet now account for only 60 percent of its real market value. And this inaccuracy is increasing. In the 1970s and 1980s, 25 percent of the changes in a company's market value could be accounted for by fluctuations in its profits. Today, according to Professor Lev, that number has shrunk to 10 percent.
The sources of a company's true value have broadened beyond rough measures of profit or fixed assets, and bean counters everywhere are scurrying to catch up. Steve Wallman, former commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, describes what they are looking for:
If we start to get further afield so that the financial statements...are measuring less and less of what is truly valuable in a company, then we start to lower the relevance of that scorecard. What we need are ways to measure the intangibles, R&D, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction. (italics ours)
Companies, managers, institutional investors, even the commissioner of the SEC -- everywhere you look, people are demanding a simple and accurate measuring stick for comparing the strength of one workplace to another. The Gallup Organization set out to build one.
The Measuring Stick
"How can you measure human capital?"
What does a strong, vibrant workplace look like?
When you walk into the building at Lankford-Sysco a few miles up the road from Ocean City, Maryland, it doesn't initially strike you as a special place. In fact, it seems slightly odd. There's the unfamiliar smell: a combination of raw food and machine oil. There's the decor: row upon row of shelving piled high to the triple ceilings, interspersed with the occasional loading dock or conveyor belt. Glimpses of figures bundled up in arctic wear, lugging mysterious crates in and out of deep freezers, only add to your disquiet.
But you press on, and gradually you begin to feel more at ease. The employees you run into are focused and cheerful. On the way to reception you pass a huge mural that seems to depict the history of the place: "There's Stanley E. Lankford Jr. hiring the first employee. There's the original office building before we added the warehouse...." In the reception area you face a wall festooned with pictures of individual, smiling faces. There are dozens of them, each with an inscription underneath that lists their length of service with the company and then another number.
"They are our delivery associates," explains Fred Lankford, the president. "We put their picture up so that we can all feel close to them, even though they're out with our customers every day. The number you see under each picture represents the amount of miles that each one drove last year. We like to publicize each person's performance."
Stanley Lankford and his three sons (Tom, Fred, and Jim) founded the Lankford operation, a family-owned food preparation and distribution company, in 1964. In 1981 they merged with Sysco, the $15 billion food distribution giant. An important proviso was that Tom, Fred, and Jim would be allowed to stay on as general managers Sysco agreed, and today all parties couldn't be happier with the decision.
The Lankford-Sysco facility is in the top 25 percent of all Sysco facilities in growth, sales per employee, profit per employee, and market penetration. They have single-digit turnover, absenteeism is at an all-company low, and shrinkage is virtually nonexistent. Most important, the Lankford-Sysco facility consistently tops the customer satisfaction charts.
"How do you do it?" you ask Fred.
He says there is not much to it. He is pleased with his pay-for-performance schemes -- everything is measured; every measurement is posted; and every measurement has some kind of compensation attached. But he doesn't offer that up as his secret. He says it is just daily work. Talk about the customer. Highlight the right heroes. Treat people with respect. Listen.
His voice trails off because he sees he is not giving you the secret recipe you seem to be looking for.
Whatever he's doing, it clearly works for his employees. Forklift operators tell you about their personal best in terms of "most packages picked" and "fewest breakages." Drivers regale you with their stories of rushing out an emergency delivery of tomato sauce to a restaurant caught short. Everywhere you turn employees are talking about how their little part of the world is critical to giving the customer the quality that is now expected from Lankford-Sysco.
Here are 840 employees, all of whom seem to thrill to the challenge of their work. Whatever measurements you care to use, the Lankford-Sysco facility in Pocomoke, Maryland, is a great place to work.
You will have your own examples of a work environment that seems to be firing on all cylinders. It will be a place where performance levels are consistently high, where turnover levels are low, and where a growing number of loyal customers join the fold every day.
With your real-life example in mind, the question you have to ask yourself is, "What lies at the heart of this great workplace? Which elements will attract only talented employees and keep them, and which elements are appealing to every employee, the best, the rest, and the ROAD warriors?"
Do talented employees really care how empowered they are, as long as they are paid on performance, such as at Lankford-Sysco? Perhaps the opposite is true; once their most basic financial needs have been met, perhaps talented employees care less about pay and benefits than they do about being trusted by their manager. Are companies wasting their money by investing in spiffier work spaces and brighter cafeterias? Or do talented employees value a clean and safe physical environment above all else?
To build our measuring stick, we had to answer these questions.

Over the last twenty-five years the Gallup Organization has interviewed more than a million employees. We have asked each of them hundreds of different questions, on every conceivable aspect of the workplace. As you can imagine, one hundred million questions is a towering haystack of data. Now, we had to sift through it, straw by straw, and find the needle. We had to pick out those few questions that were truly measuring the core of a strong workplace.
This wasn't easy. If you have a statistical mind, you can probably hazard a pretty good guess as to how we approached it -- a combination of focus groups, factor analysis, regression analysis, concurrent validity studies, and follow-up interviews. (Our research approach is described in detail in the appendix.)
However, if you think statistics are the mental equivalent of drawing your fingernails across a chalkboard, the following image may help you envision what we were trying to do.
In 1666 Isaac Newton closed the blinds of his house in Cambridge and sat in a darkened room. Outside, the sun shone brightly. Inside, Isaac cut a small hole in one of the blinds and placed a glass prism at the entrance. As the sun streamed through the hole, it hit the prism and a beautiful rainbow fanned out on the wall in front of him. Watching the perfect spectrum of colors playing on his wall, Isaac realized that the prism had pried apart the white light, refracting the colors to different degrees. He discovered that white light was, in fact, a mixture of all the other colors in the visible spectrum, from dark red to deepest purple; and that the only way to create white light was to draw all of these different colors together into a single beam.
We wanted our statistical analyses to perform the same trick as Isaac's prism. We wanted them to pry apart strong workplaces to reveal the core. We could then say to managers and companies, "If you can bring all of these core elements together in a single place, then you will have created the kind of workplace that can attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees."
So we took our mountain of data and we searched for patterns. Which questions were simply different ways of measuring the same factor? Which were the best questions to measure each factor? We weren't particularly interested in those questions, that yielded a unanimous, "Yes, I strongly agree? Nor were we swayed by those questions where everyone said, "No, I strongly disagree." Rather, we were searching for those special questions where the most engaged employees -- those who were loyal and productive -- answered positively, and everyone else -- the average performers and the ROAD warriors -- answered neutrally or negatively.
Questions that we thought were a shoo-in -- like those dealing with pay, and benefits -- fell under the analytical knife. At the same time, innocuous little questions -- such as "Do I know what is expected of me at work?" -- forced their way to the forefront. We cut and we culled. We rejigged and reworked, digging deeper and deeper to find the core of a great workplace.
When the dust finally settled, we made a discovery: Measuring the strength of a workplace can be simplified to twelve questions. These twelve questions don't capture everything you may want to know about your workplace, but they do capture the most information and the most important information. They measure the core elements needed to attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees.
Here they are:
  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel like my work is important?
  9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do I have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?
  12. At work, have I had opportunities to learn and grow?

These twelve questions are the simplest and most accurate way to measure the strength of a workplace.
When we started this research we didn't know we were going to land on these twelve questions. But after running a hundred million questions through our "prism," these exact questions were revealed as the most powerful. If you can create the kind of environment where employees answer positively to all twelve questions, then you will have built a great place to work.
While at first glance these questions seem rather straightforward, the more you look at them, the more intriguing they become.
First, you probably noticed that many of the questions contain an extreme. "I have a best friend at work" or "At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day." When the questions are phrased like this, it is much more difficult to say "Strongly Agree," or "5" on a scale of 1 to 5. But this is exactly what we wanted. We wanted to find questions that would discriminate between the most productive departments and the rest. We discovered that if you removed the extreme language, the question lost much of its power to discriminate. Everyone said "Strongly Agree" -- the best, the rest, and everyone in between. A question where everyone always answers "Strongly Agree" is a weak question.
Much of the power of this measuring stick, then, lies in the wording of the questions. The issues themselves aren't a big surprise. Most people knew, for example, that strong relationships and frequent praise were vital ingredients of a healthy workplace. However, they didn't know how to measure whether or not these ingredients were present, and if so, to what extent. Gallup has discovered the best questions to do just that.
Second, you may be wondering why there are no questions dealing with pay, benefits, senior management, or organizational structure. There were initially, but they disappeared during the analysis. This doesn't mean they are unimportant. It simply means they are equally important to every employee, good, bad, and mediocre. Yes, if you are paying 20 percent below the market average, you may have difficulty attracting people. But bringing your pay and benefits package up to market levels, while a sensible first step, will not take you very far. These kinds of issues are like tickets to the ballpark -- they can get you into the game, but they can't help you win.
Putting the Twelve to the Test
"Does the measuring stick link to business outcomes?"
Gallup had set out to dense a way to measure strong workplaces: workplaces that would attract and retain the most productive employees and scare away the ROAD warriors. If these questions were in truth the best questions, then employees who answered them positively would presumably work in higher-performing departments. That was our goal when we designed the measuring stick. Would it prove to be true in practice?
Throughout the spring and summer of 1998 Gallup launched a massive investigation to find out.
We asked twenty-four different companies, representing a cross section of twelve distinct industries, to provide us with scores measuring four different kinds of business outcome: productivity, profitability, employee retention, and customer satisfaction. Some companies had difficulty gathering this data, but in the end we managed to include over 2,500 business units in our study. The definition of a "business unit" varied by industry: for banking it was the branch; for hospitality it was the restaurant or the hotel; for manufacturing it was the factory; and so on.
We then interviewed the employees who worked in these branches, restaurants, hotels, factories, and departments, asking them to respond to each of the twelve questions on a scale of 1 to 5, "1" being strongly disagree, "5" being strongly agree. One hundred and five thousand employees took part.
Armed with all this data, we were set to go. We knew the productivity, the profitability, the retention levels, and the customer ratings of these different business units. And we knew how the employees of the business units had answered the twelve questions. We could now see, finally, whether or not engaged employees did indeed drive positive business outcomes, across 2,500 business units and 24 companies.
We were optimistic that the links would surface, but, truth be told, it was entirely possible that we wouldn't find them. The links between employee opinion and business unit performance seem inevitable -- after all, most of us have probably heard ourselves rattle off such cliches as "Happy employees are more productive" or "If you treat your people right, they wilt treat your customers fight." Yet in their attempts to prove these statements, researchers have frequently come up empty-handed. In fact, in most studies, if you test one hundred employee o inion questions, you will be lucky to find five or six that show a strong relationship to any business outcome. Disappointingly, if you repeat the study, you often find that a different set of five or six questions pop up the second time around.
We also knew that no one had ever undertaken this kind of study before, across many different companies. Since each of these four business outcomes -- productivity, profit, retention, and customer service -- is vitally important to every company, and since the easiest lever for a manager to pull is the employee lever, you would have thought the air would be thick with research examining the links between employee opinion and these four business outcomes. It isn't. You can track down research examining these links within a particular company -- with decidedly mixed results -- but never across companies and industries. Surprisingly, the Gallup research was the first cross-industry study to investigate the links between employee opinion and business unit performance.
Why does this research vacuum exist? More than likely it's because each company has different ways of measuring the same thing. Blockbuster Video might measure productivity by sales per square foot. Lankford-Sysco might use packages shipped and number of breakages. The Walt Disney Company might include only full-time employees in their retention figures. Marriott might include full-time and part-time. It is frustratingly difficult to pick up on linkages between employee opinion and business performance, when every company insists on measuring performance differently.
Fortunately we had discovered a solution: meta-analysis. A detailed explanation can put even the most ardent number cruncher to sleep, so let's just say that it is a statistical technique that cuts through the different performance measures used by different companies and allows you to zero in on the real links between employee opinion and business unit performance.
So, having entered the performance data from over 2,500 business units and punched in the opinion data from over 105,000 employees, we programmed the meta-analysis formulas, pressed Run, and held our breath.
This is what we found. First, we saw that those employees who responded more positively to the twelve questions also worked in business units with higher levels of productivity, profit, retention, and customer satisfaction. This demonstrated, for the first time, the link between employee opinion and business unit performance, across many different companies.
Second, the meta-analysis revealed that employees rated the questions differently depending on which business unit they worked for rather than which company. This meant that, for the most part, these twelve opinions were being formed by the employees' immediate manager rather than by the policies or procedures of the overall company. We had discovered that the manager -- not pay, benefits, perks, or a charismatic corporate leader -- was the critical player in building a strong workplace. The manager was the key. We will discuss this finding in more detail later in the chapter. For now let's concentrate on our first discovery, the link between employee opinion and business unit performance.
If you are so inclined, you can find in the appendix a detailed description of all our discoveries and the methodology behind them. This is the top line.
* Every one of the twelve questions was linked to at least one of the four business outcomes: productivity, profitability, retention, and customer satisfaction. Most of the questions revealed links to two or more business outcomes. The twelve questions were indeed capturing those few, vital employee opinions that related to top performance, whether in a bank, a restaurant, a hotel, a factory, or any other kind of business unit. The measuring stick had withstood its most rigorous test.
* As you might have expected, the most consistent links (ten of the twelve questions) were to the "productivity" measure. People have always believed there is a direct link between an employee's opinion and his work group's productivity. Nonetheless, it was good to see the numbers jibe with the theory.
* Eight of the twelve questions showed a link to the "profitability" measure. That means employees who answered these eight questions more positively than other employees also worked in more profitable banks, restaurants, hotels, factories, or departments. To some people this might seem a little surprising. After all, many believe that profit is a function of factors that lie far beyond the control of individual employees: factors like pricing, competitive positioning, or variable-cost management. But the more you think about it, the more understandable this link becomes. There are so many things one employee can do to affect profit -- everything from turning off more lights, to negotiating harder on price, to avoiding the temptations of the till. Simply put, these will happen more often when each employee feels truly engaged.
* What about employee retention? Strangely enough, only five of the twelve questions revealed a link to retention:
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
Most people would instinctively agree with the generalization "Engaged employees will stay longer." But our research suggests that the link between employee opinion and employee retention is subtler and more specific than this kind of generalization has allowed. Even more than the rest, these five questions are most directly influenced by the employee's immediate manager. What does this tell us? It tells us that people leave managers, not companies. So much money has been thrown at the challenge of keeping good people -- in the form of better pay, better perks, and better training -- when, in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue. If you have a turnover problem, look first to your managers.
* Of the twelve, the most powerful questions are those with a combination of the strongest links to the most business outcomes. Armed with this perspective, we now know that the following six are the most powerful questions:
  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

As a manager, if you want to know what you should do to build a strong and productive workplace, securing 5's to these six questions would be an excellent place to start. We will return to these questions in a moment.
Once a year a study is published entitled "The Hundred Best Companies to Work For." The criteria for selection are such factors as Does the company have an on-site day care facility? How much vacation does the company provide? Does the company offer any kind of profit sharing? Is the company committed to employee training? Companies are examined, and the list of the top one hundred is compiled.
Our research suggests that these criteria miss the mark. It's not that these employee-focused initiatives are unimportant. It's just that your immediate manager is more important. She defines and pervades your work environment. If she sets clear expectations, knows you, trusts you, and invests in you, then you can forgive the company its lack of a profit-sharing program. But if your relationship with your manager is fractured, then no amount of in-chair massaging or company-sponsored dog walking will persuade you to stay and perform. It is better to work for a great manager in an old-fashioned company than for a terrible manager in a company offering an enlightened, employee-focused culture.
Sharon F., a graduate of Stanford and Harvard, left American Express a little over a year ago. She wanted to get into the world of publishing, so she joined one of the media-entertainment giants in the marketing department of one of their many magazines. She was responsible for devising loyalty programs to ensure that subscription holders would renew. She loved the work, excelled at it, and caught the eye of senior management. Sharon is a very small cog in this giant machine, but according to the chairman of this giant, employees like her -- bright, talented, ambitious employees -- are "the fuel for our future."
Unfortunately for this giant, the fuel is leaking. After only a year Sharon is leaving the company. She is joining a restaurant start-up as head of marketing and business development. Her boss, it appears, drove her away.
"He's not a bad man," she admits. "He's just not a manager. He's insecure, and I don't think you can be insecure and a good manager. It makes him compete with his own people. It makes him boast about his high-style living; when he should be listening to us. And he plays these silly little power games to show us who's the boss. Like last week he didn't show up for a ten A.M. interview with a candidate who had made a two-hour commute just to see him, because he had stayed out much too late the night before. He called me at nine fifty-five A.M., asked me to break the news to her, and tried to make it seem like he was giving me some kind of compliment, that he could really trust me to cover for him. I can't stand behavior like that."
Listening to Sharon, you might wonder if it is just a personality clash or even whether it is she who is somehow causing the problems. So you ask her, "Does anyone else on the team feel the same way?"
"I'm not sure," she confesses. "I don't like to bad-mouth my boss, so I haven't really talked about it with anyone at work. But I do know this: When I came here there were thirteen of us on his team. Now, a year later, every single one of them has left, except me."
Sharon's company does many things very well, both in terms of its overall business performance and its employee-friendly culture. But deep within this giant, unseen by the senior executives or Wall Street, one individual is draining the company of power and value. As Sharon says, he is not a bad man, but he is a bad manager. Woefully miscast, he now spends his days chasing away one talented employee after another.
Perhaps he is an exception. Or perhaps the giant makes a habit of promoting people into manager roles who are talented individual achievers but poor managers. The giant would certainly hope for the former. But Sharon doesn't care one way or the other. When she told her company that she was considering leaving, they offered her more money and a bigger title, to try to coax her back. But they didn't offer her what she wanted most: a new manager. So she left.
An employee may join Disney or GE or Time Warner because she is lured by their generous benefits package and their reputation for valuing employees. But it is her relationship with her immediate manager that will determine how long she stays and how productive she is while she is there. Michael Eisner, Jack Welch, Gerald Levin, and all the goodwill in the world can do only so much. In the end these questions tell us that, from the employee's perspective, managers trump companies.
Unlike Wall Street and the business press, employees don't put their faith in the myth of "great companies" or "great leaders." For employees, there are only managers: great ones, poor ones, and many in between. Perhaps the best thing any leader can do to drive the whole company toward greatness is, first, to hold each manager accountable for what his employees say to these twelve questions, and, second, to help each manager know what actions to take to deserve "Strongly Agree" responses from his employees.
The following chapters describe the actions taken by the world's great managers.
But first, a case in point: What do all these discoveries mean for a specific company or a specific manager?
A Case in Point
"What do these discoveries mean for one particular company?"
In the winter of 1997 Gallup was asked by an extremely successful retailer to measure the strength of their work environment. They employed thirty-seven thousand people spread across three hundred stores -- about one hundred employees per store. Each one of these stores was designed and built to provide the customer with a consistent shopping experience. The building, the layout, the product positioning, the colors, every detail was honed so that the store in Atlanta would have the same distinctive brand identity as the store in Phoenix.
We asked each employee the twelve questions -- over 75 percent of all employees chose to participate for a total of twenty-eight thousand. We then looked at the scores for each store. The following table offers an example of what we found: two Stores at opposite ends of the measuring stick. (We asked the questions on a 1-5 scale, where "1" equals strongly disagree and "5" equals strongly agree. The numbers in the columns are the percentage of employees who responded "5" to each question.)
These are startling differences. Whatever the company was trying to do for its employees from the center, at the store level, these initiatives were being communicated and implemented in radically different ways. For the employees, Store A must have offered a much more engaging work experience than Store B.
Look at the different levels of relationship, for example. In Store A, 51 percent of employees said they felt cared about as a person. In Store B, that number sank to 17 percent. Given the pace of change in today's business world, one of the most valuable commodities a company can possess is the employees' "benefit of the doubt." If employees are willing to offer their company the benefit of the doubt, they will give every new initiative a fighting chance, no matter how sensitive or controversial it might be. Store A possesses this precious commodity. Here the employees will tolerate ambiguity, trusting that, as events play out, their manager will be there to support them. Store B doesn't have that luxury. Lacking genuine bonds between manager and employee, any new initiative, no matter how well intended; will be greeted with suspicion.
How about individual performance? In Store A, 55 percent of employees said that they had a chance to do what they do best every day. In Store B, only 19 percent responded "5." What a difference that must make in terms of per person productivity, retention, and workers' compensation claims.
Wherever you look, the differences leap out at you.
"Do your opinions count. Store A, 36 percent. Store B? A quarter of that, 9 percent.
"Do you have a best friend at work?" Store A, 33 percent. Store B, only 10 percent.
Perhaps the most bizarre discrepancy can be found in the second question. In Store A, 45 percent of employees strongly agreed that they had the materials and equipment they needed to do their work right. In Store B, only 11 percent said "5." The truly odd thing about this is that Store A and Store B had the same materials and equipment; yet the employees' perception of them was utterly different. Everything, even the physical environment, was colored by the store manager.
This company didn't have one culture. It had as many cultures as it did managers. No matter what the company's intent, each store's culture was a unique creation of the managers and supervisors in the field. Some cultures were fragile, bedeviled with mistrust and suspicion. Others were strong, able to attract and keep talented employees.
For this company's leaders, the wide variation in results was actually very good news. Yes, looking only at the negative, it meant there was a limit to what they could control from the center. The challenge of building a strong all-company culture had suddenly turned into a challenge of multiplication.
On the brighter side, however, these results revealed that this company was blessed with some truly exemplary managers. These managers had built productive businesses by engaging the talents and passions of their people. In their quest to attract productive employees, this company could now stop hunting for the magical central fix. Instead they could find out what their newly highlighted cadre of brilliant managers was doing and then build their company culture around this blueprint. They could try to hire more like their best. They could take the ideas of their best and multiply them companywide. They could redesign training programs based upon the practices of their best. To build a stronger culture, this company wouldn't have to borrow ideas from the likes of "best practice" companies like Disney, Southwest Airlines, or Ritz-Carlton. All they would have to do is learn from their own best.
"So what if they do learn from their best?" some might ask. "Do more 5's on the twelve questions necessarily translate to higher levels of real performance? Does Store A actually outperform Store B on any of the more traditional performance measures like sales, profit, or retention.
Of course, our general discoveries would say yes, workplaces where many employees can answer positively to the twelve questions will indeed be more productive workplaces. But this is too general. Like you, we wanted to know the specifics. So we asked the company to supply us with the raw performance data that they would normally use to measure the productivity of a store. We punched in these scores and then compared them with each store's scores on the twelve questions. This is what we found:
* Stores scoring in the top 25 percent on the employee opinion survey were, on average, 4.56 percent over their sales budget for the year, while those scoring in the bottom 25 percent were 0.84 percent below budget. In real numbers this is a difference of $104 million of sales per year between the two groups. If realized, this figure would represent a 2.6 percent increase in the company's total sales.
* Profit/loss comparisons told an even more dramatic story. The top 25 percent of stores on the survey ended the year almost 14 percent over their profit budget. Those stores in the bottom group missed their profit goals by a full 30 percent.
* Employee turnover levels were also vastly different. Each store in the top group retained, on average, twelve more employees per year than each store in the bottom group. Across both groups this means that the top 95 percent scoring stores on the survey retained one thousand more employees per year than the bottom group of stores. If you estimate that the wage of the average store employee is $18,000 and that the cost Of finding, hiring, and training each new employee is 1.5 times his salary, then the total cost to the company for the different levels of retention between the two groups is $18,000 x 1.5 x 1,000 = $27,000,000. And that's just the hard cost. The drain of experienced employees who have developed valuable relationships with their customers and their colleagues is harder to measure but is just as significant a loss.
These results are compelling. In this company the business units were measurably more productive where the employees answered positively to the twelve questions. Excellent front-line managers had engaged their employees and these engaged employees had provided the foundation for top performance.
Any measuring stick worth its salt not only tells you where you stand, it also helps you decide what to do next. So what can a manager, any manager, do to secure 5's to these twelve questions and so engage his employees?
First you have to know where to start. Gallup's research revealed that some questions were more powerful than others. This implies that you, the manager, should address these twelve questions in the right order. There is little point attacking the lesser questions if you have ignored the most powerful. In fact, as many managers discover to their detriment, addressing the twelve questions in the wrong order is both very tempting and actively dangerous.
We will show you why, and by way of contrast, we will describe where the world's great managers start laying the foundations for a truly productive workplace.
Mountain Climbing
"Why is there an order to the twelve questions?"
To help us describe the order of these twelve questions, we ask you to picture, in your mind's eye, a mountain. At first it is hard to make out its full shape and color, shifting from blue to gray to green as you approach. But now, standing at the base, you sense its presence. You know there is a climb ahead. You know the climb will vary, sometimes steep, sometimes gradual. You know there will be gullies to negotiate, terrain that will force you to descend before you can resume your climb. You know the dangers, too, the cold, the clouds, and the most pressing danger of all, your own fragile will. But then you think of the summit and how you will feel, so you start to climb.
You know this mountain. We all do. It is the psychological climb you make from the moment you take on a new role to the moment you feel fully engaged in that role. At the base of the mountain, perhaps you are joining a new company. Perhaps you have just been promoted to a new role within the same company. Either way you are at the start of a long climb.
At the summit of this mountain you are still in the same role -- the mountain doesn't represent a career climb -- but you are loyal and productive in this role. You are the machinist who bothers to write down all the little hints and tips you have picked up so that you can present them as an informal manual to apprentice machinists just learning their craft. You are the grocery store clerk who tells the customer that the grapefruit are in aisle five but who then walks her to aisle five, explaining that the grapefruit are always stocked from the back to the front. "If you like your grapefruit really firm," you say, "pick one from the front." You are the manager who so loves your work that you get tears in your eyes when asked to describe how you helped so many of your people succeed.
Whatever your role, at the summit of this mountain you are good at what you do, you know the fundamental purpose of your work, and you are always looking for better ways to fulfill that mission. You are fully engaged.
How did you get there?
If a manager can answer this, he will know how to guide other employees. He will be able to help more and more individuals reach the summit. The more individuals he can help move up the mountain, one by one, the stronger the workplace. So how did you get there? How did you make the climb?
Put on your employee hat for a moment. This may be a psychological mountain, but as with an actual mountain, you have to climb it in stages. Read in the right order, the twelve questions can tell you which stage is which and exactly what needs must be met before you can continue your climb up to the next stage.
Before we describe the stages on the climb, think back to the needs you had when you were first starting your current role. What did you want from the role? What needs were foremost in your mind at that time? Then, as time passed and you settled in, how did your needs change? And currently, what are your priorities? What do you need from your role today?
You may want to keep these thoughts in mind as we describe the stages on the climb.
Base Camp: "What do I get?"
When you first start a new role, your needs are pretty basic. You want to know what is going to be expected of you. How much are you going to earn? How long will your commute be? Will you have an office, a desk, even a phone? At this stage you are asking, "What do I get?" from this role.
Of the twelve, these two fundamental questions measure Base Camp:
  1. Do I know what is expected of me?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

Camp 1: "What do I give?"
You climb a little higher. Your perspective changes. You start asking different questions. You want to know whether you are any good at the job. Are you in a role where you can excel? Do other people think you are excelling? If not, what do they think about you? Will they help you? At this stage your questions center around "What do I give?" You are focused on your individual contribution and other people's perceptions of it.
These four questions measure Camp 1:
  1. Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  2. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  3. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  4. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Each of these questions helps you know not only if you feel you are doing well in the role (Q3), but also if other people value your individual performance (Q4), if they value you as a person (Q5), and if they are prepared to invest in your growth (Q6.) These questions all address the issue of your individual self-esteem and worth. As we will see, if these questions remain unanswered, all of your yearnings to belong, to become part of a team, to learn and to innovate, will be undermined.
Camp 2: "Do I belong here?"
You keep climbing. By now you've asked some difficult questions, of yourself and of others, and the answers have, hopefully, given you strength. Your perspective widens. You look around and ask, "Do I belong here?" You may be extremely customer service oriented -- is everyone else as customer driven as you? Or perhaps you define yourself by your creativity -- are you surrounded by people who push the envelope, as you do? Whatever your basic value system happens to be, at this stage of the climb you really want to know if you fit.
These four questions measure Camp 2:
  1. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  2. Does the mission of my company make me feel my job is important?
  3. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  4. Do I have a best friend at work?

Camp 3: "How can we all grow?"
This is the most advanced stage of the climb. At this stage you are impatient for everyone to improve, asking, "How can we all grow?" You want to make things better, to learn, to grow, to innovate. This stage tells us that only after you have climbed up and through the earlier three stages can you innovate effectively. Why? Because there is a difference between "invention" and "innovation." invention is mere novelty -- like most of us, you might have devised seventeen new ways of doing things a few weeks after starting in your new role. But these ideas didn't carry any weight. By contrast, innovation is novelty that can be applied. And you can innovate, you can apply your new ideas, only if you are focused on the right expectations (Base Camp), if you have confidence in your own expertise (Camp 1), and if you are aware of how your new ideas will be accepted or rejected by the people around you (Camp 2). If you cannot answer positively to all these earlier questions, then you will find it almost impossible to apply all your new ideas.
These two questions measure Camp 3:
  1. In the last six months, has someone talked with me about my progress?
  2. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

The Summit
If you can answer positively to all of these twelve questions, then you have reached the summit. Your focus is dear. You feel a recurring sense of achievement, as though the best of you is being called upon and the best of you responds every single day. You look around and see others who also seem to thrill to the challenge of their work. Buoyed by your mutual understanding and your shared purpose, you climbers look out and forward to the challenges marching over the horizon. It is not easy to remain at the summit for long, with the ground shifting beneath your feet and the strong winds buffeting you this way and that. But while you are there, it is quite a feeling.
If this is the psychological climb you made (or failed to make) from the moment you began your current role to the moment you felt fully engaged in this role, then where are you?
Camp 1? Camp 3? The summit?
Ask yourself those twelve questions. Your answers can give you a read on where you are on the mountain. Perhaps your company is going through times of change and you find yourself languishing down at Base Camp. Change can do that to a person -- you genuinely want to commit, but the uncertainty keeps pushing you down and down. ("Quit telling me how great the future is going to be. Just tell me what is expected of me today.")
Perhaps you have just been promoted -- you felt as though you were at the summit in your previous role, but now you find yourself right back down at Camp 1, with new expectations and a new manager. ("I wonder what he thinks of me. I wonder how he will define success.") Yes, even when good things happen you can quickly find yourself at the base of a new mountain, with a long climb ahead.
Of course, the climb toward the summit is more complicated than this picture. Not only will people trade one stage off against another, but each individual will also place a slightly different value on each stage of the climb. For example, you might have taken your current role simply because it offered you the chance to learn and grow -- in a sense, you fiery straight in to Camp 3. And if these higher-level needs are being met, then you will probably be a little more patient in waiting for your manager to make his expectations crystal clear (Base Camp). Similarly, if you feel very connected to your team members (Camp 2), then you may be prepared to stick this out for a while longer, even though you feel that your role on the team doesn't allow you to use your true talents (Camp 1).
However, these kinds of individual trade-offs don't deny the basic truth of the mountain -- regardless of how positively you answer the questions at Camp 2 or Camp 3, the longer your lower-level needs remain unmet, the more likely it is that you will burn out, become unproductive, and leave.
In fact, if you do find yourself answering positively to Camps 2 and 3, but negatively to the questions lower down, be very careful. You are in an extremely precarious position. On the surface everything seems fine -- you like your team members (Camp 2), you are learning and growing (Camp 3) -- but deep down you are disengaged. Not only are you less productive than you could be, but you would jump ship at the first good offer.
We can give this condition a name: mountain sickness.
In the physical world, mountain sickness is brought on by the lack of oxygen at high altitudes. Starved of oxygen, your heart starts pounding. You feel breathless and disoriented. If you don't climb down to lower altitudes, your lungs will fill with fluid and you will die. There is no way to cheat mountain sickness. There is no vaccine, no antidote. The only way to beat it is to climb down and give your body time to acclimatize.
Inexperienced climbers might suggest that if you have lots of money and not much time, you could helicopter in to Camp 3 and race to the summit. Experienced guides know that you would never make it. Mountain sickness would sap your energy and slow your progress to a crawl. These guides will tell you that to reach the summit you have to pay your dues. During your ascent you have to spend a great deal of time between Base Camp and Camp 1. The more time you spend at these lower reaches, the more stamina you will have in the thin air near the summit.
In the psychological world, their advice still applies. Base Camp and Camp 1 are the foundation. Spend time focusing on these needs, find a manager who can meet these needs, and you will have the strength necessary for the long climb ahead. Ignore these-needs and you are much more likely to psychologically disengage.
Now put your manager's hat back on.
This metaphorical mountain reveals that the key to building a strong, vibrant workplace lies in meeting employees' needs at Base Camp and Camp 1. This is where you should focus your time and energy. If your employees' lower-level needs remain unaddressed, then everything you do for them further along the journey is almost irrelevant. But if you can meet these needs successfully, then the rest -- the team building and the innovating -- is so much easier.
It almost sounds obvious. But over the last fifteen years most managers have been encouraged to focus much higher up the mountain. Mission statements, diversity training, self-directed work teams -- all try to help employees feel they belong (Camp 2). Total quality management, reengineering, continuous improvement, learning organizations -- all address the need for employees to innovate, to challenge cozy assumptions and rebuild them afresh, every day (Camp 3).
All of these initiatives were very well conceived. Many of them were well executed. But almost all of them have withered. Five years ago the Baldrige Award for Quality was the most coveted business award in America -- today only a few companies bother to enter. Diversity experts now bicker over the proper definition of "diversity." Process reengineering gurus try to squeeze people back into process. And many of us snort at mission statements.
When you think about it, it is rather sad. An important kernel of truth lay at the heart of all of these initiatives, but none of them lasted,
Why? An epidemic of mountain sickness. They aimed too high, too fast.
Managers were encouraged to focus on complex initiatives like reengineering or learning organizations, without spending time on the basics. The stages on the mountain reveal that if the employee doesn't know what is expected of him as an individual (Base Camp), then you shouldn't ask him to get excited about playing on a team (Camp 2). If he feels as though he is in the wrong role (Camp 1), don't pander to him by telling him how important his innovative ideas are to the company's reengineering efforts (Camp 3). If he doesn't know what his manager thinks of him as an individual (Camp 1), don't confuse him by challenging him to become part of the new "learning organization" (Camp 3).
Don't helicopter in at seventeen thousand feet, because sooner or later you and your people will die on the mountain.
Great managers take aim at Base Camp and Camp 1. They know that the core of a strong and vibrant workplace can be found in the first six questions:
  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Securing 5's to these questions is one of your most important responsibilities. And as many managers discover, getting all 5'S from your employees is far from easy. For example, the manager who tries to curry favor with his people by telling them that they should all be promoted may receive 5's on the question "Is there someone at work who encourages my development?" However, because all his employees now feel they are in the wrong role, he will get l's on the question "At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?"
Similarly, the manager who tries to control his employees' behavior by writing a thick policies and procedures manual will receive 5's to the question "Do I know what is expected of me at work?" But because of his rigid, policing management style, he will probably receive l's to the question "Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me?"
To secure 5's to all of these questions you have to reconcile responsibilities that, at first sight, appear contradictory. You have to be able to set consistent expectations for all your people yet at the same time treat each person differently. You have to be able to make each person feel as though he is in a role that uses his talents, while simultaneously challenging him to grow. You have to care about each person, praise each person, and, if necessary, terminate a person you have cared about and praised.
F. Scott Fitzgerald believed that "the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time, and still maintain the ability to function." In this sense, great managers possess a unique intelligence. In the following chapters we will describe this intelligence. We will help you look through the eyes of the world's great managers and see how they balance their conflicting responsibilities. We will show you how they find, focus, and develop so many talented employees, so effectively.
Copyright © 1999 by The Gallup Organization|INTRODUCTION
Breaking All the Rules
The greatest managers in the world do not have much in common. They are of different sexes, races, and ages. They employ vastly different styles and focus on different goals. But despite their differences, these great managers do share one thing: Before they do anything else, they first break all the rules of conventional wisdom. They do not believe that a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They do not try to help a person overcome his weaknesses. They consistently disregard the Golden Rule. And, yes, they even play favorites.
Great managers are revolutionaries, although few would use that word to describe themselves. This book will take you inside the minds of these managers to explain why they have toppled conventional wisdom and reveal the new truths they have forged in its place.
We are not encouraging you to replace your natural managerial style with a standardized version of theirs -- as you will see, great managers do not share a "standardized style." Rather, our purpose is to help you capitalize on your own style, by showing you how to incorporate the revolutionary insights shared by great managers everywhere.
This book is the product of two mammoth research studies undertaken by the Gallup Organization over the last twenty-five years. The first concentrated on employees, asking, "What do the most talented employees need from their workplace. Gallup surveyed over a million employees from a broad range of companies, industries, and countries. We asked them questions on all aspects of their working life, then dug deep into their answers to discover the most important needs demanded by the most productive employees.
Our research yielded many discoveries, but the most powerful was this: Talented employees need great managers. The talented employee may join a company because of its charismatic leaders, its generous benefits, and its world-class training programs, but how long that employee stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by his relationship with his immediate supervisor.
This simple discovery led us to the second research effort: "How do the world's greatest managers find, focus, and keep talented employees?" To answer this question we went to the source -- large companies and small companies, privately held companies, publicly traded companies, and public sector organizations -- and interviewed a cross section of their managers, from the excellent to the average. How did we know who was excellent and who was average? We asked each company to provide us with performance measures. Measures like sales, profit, customer satisfaction scores, employee turnover figures, employee opinion data, and 360-degree surveys were all used to distill the best managers from the rest During the last twenty-five years the Gallup Organization has conducted, tape-recorded, and transcribed one-and-a-half-hour interviews with over eighty thousand managers.
Some of these managers were in leadership positions. Some were midlevel managers. Some were front-line supervisors. But all of them had one or more employees reporting to them. We focused our analysis on those managers who excelled at turning the talent of their employees into performance. Despite their obvious differences in style, we wanted to discover what, if anything, these great managers had in common.
Their ideas are plain and direct, but they are not necessarily simple to implement. Conventional wisdom is conventional for a reason: It is easier. It is easier to believe that each employee possesses unlimited potential. It is easier to imagine that the best way to help an employee is by fixing his weaknesses. It is easier to "do unto others as you would be done unto." It is easier to treat everyone the same and so avoid charges of favoritism. Conventional wisdom is comfortingly, seductively easy.
The revolutionary wisdom of great managers isn't. Their path is much more exacting. It demands discipline, focus, trust, and, perhaps most important, a willingness to individualize. In this book, great managers present no sweeping new theories, no prefabricated formulae. All they can offer you are insights into the nature of talent and into their secrets for turning talent into lasting performance. The real challenge lies in how you incorporate these insights into your style, one employee at a time, every day.

This book gives voice to one million employees and eighty thousand managers. While these interviews ground the book in the real world, their sheer number can be overwhelming. It is hard to imagine what one talented employee or one great manager sounds like. The following excerpt, from a single interview, captures something of both the tone and the content of our in-depth interviews.
As with all the managers we quote, we have changed his name to preserve his anonymity. We will call him Michael. Michael runs a fine-dining restaurant owned by a large hospitality company in the Pacific Northwest. Since Gallup first met Michael fifteen years ago, his restaurant has been in the company's top 10 percent on sales, profit, growth, retention, and customer satisfaction. From the perspective of his company, his customers, and his employees, Michael is a great manager.
Throughout the book you will hear Michael's comments echoed by other managers and employees. But rather than pointing out these echoes, we ask you to make the connections for yourself as you move through the chapters. For the moment we will simply let Michael speak for himself.
Gallup: Can you tell us about your best team ever?
Michael: You mean my whole team? I have at least thirty people working here.
Gallup: Just tell us about the core of the team.
Michael: I suppose my best team ever was my wait staff team a few years ago. There were four of them. Brad was about thirty-five, a professional waiter. Took great pride in being the best waiter in town. He was brilliant at anticipating. Customers never had to ask for anything. The moment the thought entered their mind that they needed more water, or a dessert menu, Brad was there at their shoulder, handing it to them.
Then there was Gary. Gary was an innocent. Not naive just an innocent. He instinctively thought the world was a friendly place, so he was always smiling, cheerful. I don't mean that he wasn't professional, 'cause he was. Always came in looking neat, wearing a freshly pressed shirt. But it was his attitude that so impressed me. Everyone. liked to be around Gary.
Susan was our greeter. She was lively, energetic, presented herself very well. When she first joined us, I guessed that she might lack a little common sense, but I was wrong. She handled the customers perfectly. On busy nights she would tell them pleasantly but firmly that last-minute reservations couldn't be accepted. During lunch some customers just want to get their order, pay, and leave. Susan would figure this out and let their server know that, with this particular customer, speed was of the essence. She paid attention, and she made good decisions.
Emma was the unspoken team builder in the crew. Quieter, more responsible, more aware of everyone else, she would get the team together before a busy Saturday night, and just talk everyone through the need to put on a good show, to be alert, to help each other get out of the weeds.
These four were the backbone of my best team even I didn't really need to interfere. They ran the show themselves. They would train new hires, set the right example, and even eject people who didn't fit. For a good three years they were the restaurant.
Gallup: Where are they now?
Michael: Susan, Emma, and Gary all graduated and moved back east. Brad is still with me.
Gallup: Do you have a secret to building great teams?
Michael: No, I don't think there is a secret I think the best a manager can do is to make each person comfortable with who they are. Look, we all have insecurities. Wouldn't it be great if, at work, we didn't have to confront our insecurities all the time? I didn't try to fix Brad, Susan, Gary, and Emma. I didn't try to make them clones of each other. I tried to create an environment where they were encouraged to be more of who they already were. As long as they didn't stomp on each other and as long as they satisfied the customers, I didn't care that they were all so different.
Gallup: How did you get to know these people so well?
Michael: I spent a lot of time with them. I listened. I took them out for dinner, had a couple of drinks with them. Had them over to my place for holidays. But mostly I was just interested in who they were.
Gallup: What do you think of the statement "Familiarity breeds contempt?"
Michael: It's wrong. How can you manage people if you don't know them, their style, their motivation, their personal situation? I don't think you can.
Gallup: Do you think a manager should treat everyone the same?
Michael: Of course not.
Gallup: Why?
Michael: Because everyone is different. I was telling you about Gary before, how great an employee he was. But I fired him twice. A couple of times his joking around went too far, and he really jerked my chain. I really liked him, but I had to fire him. Our relationship would have been ruined if I hadn't put my foot down and said, "Don't come in on Monday." After each time, he learned a little bit more about himself and his values, so I hired him back both times. I think he's a better person because of what I did.
My firm hand worked with Gary. It wouldn't have worked at all with Brad. If I even raised my voice with Brad, I would get the exact opposite reaction from the one I wanted. He would be crushed. He'd shut down. So when I disagree with him, I have to talk quietly and reason everything through with him quite carefully.
Gallup: Isn't it unfair to treat people differently?
Michael: I don't think so. I think people want to feel understood. Treating them differently is part of helping them feel unique. If I know that one of my people is the primary breadwinner, then as long as they perform, I will be more likely to give him better hours than someone who is a student. The student might be a little annoyed, but when I explain the situation to him, he usually calms down. Besides, he now knows that I will be paying attention to his personal situation when he needs a special favor. That's always a good message to send.
Gallup: Other than Gary, have you ever fired anyone?
Michael: Unfortunately, I have. Like most managers, sometimes I don't pick the right people and things start to fall apart.
Gallup: What is your approach to firing an employee?
Michael: Do it fast, the faster the better. If someone is consistently underperforming, you might think you are doing them a favor by waiting. You aren't. You're actually making matters worse.
Gallup: You've been managing now for fifteen years. If you were going to give any advice to a new manager, what would it be?
Michael: I am not an expert at this, you know. I'm still learning.
Gallup: That's fine. Just tell us a couple of the ideas that have helped you over the years.
Michael: Well...I suppose the first would be, pick the right people. If you do, it makes everything else so much easier.
And once you've picked them, trust them. Everyone here knows that the till is open. If they want to borrow $2 for cigarettes or $200 for rent, they can. Just put an IOU in the till and pay it back. If you expect the best of people, they'll give you the best. I've rarely been let down. And when someone has let me down, I don't think it is right to punish those who haven't by creating some new rule or policy.
Another thing would be, don't overpromote people. Pay them well for what they do, and make it rewarding, in every way, for them to keep doing what they are doing. Brad is a great waiter, but he would make a terrible manager. He loves to perform for an audience he respects. He respects the customers. He is less respectful of some of the new employees. As a manager, these employees would be his audience.
And especially important: Never pass the buck. Never say, "I think this is a crazy idea, but corporate insists." Passing the buck may make your little world easy, but the organism as a whole, sorry, the organization as a whole, will be weakened. So in the long run, you are actually making your life worse. Even worse are those who find themselves always promising things that don't come to pass. Since you never know what corporate might spring on you next, I recommend living by this simple rule: Make very few promises to your people, and keep them all.
That's it. That's my list.
Gallup: Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about your experiences as a manager?
Michael: Maybe just this: A manager has got to remember that he is on stage every day. His people are watching him. Everything he does, everything he says, and the way he says it, sends off clues to his employees. These clues affect performance. So never forget you are on that stage.

So that's Michael. Or, at least, that's an excerpt from Michael. During our research we heard from thousands of managers like Michael and from hundreds of thousands of employees who worked for managers like Michael. Some of Michael's opinions are commonly held -- never pass the buck, make few promises and keep them all. But the majority of his testament is revolutionary -- his desire to help all employees become more of who they already are; his willingness to treat each person differently; his desire to become close friends with his employees; his acceptance that he cannot change people, that all he can do is facilitate; his trusting nature. Michael, like all great managers, breaks the rules of conventional wisdom.
Like you, we know that change is a fact of modern life. We know that the business climate is in permanent flux and that different approaches to managing people wax and wane. However, in listening to managers like Michael and the employees they manage, we were searching for that which does not change. What will talented employees always need? What will great managers always do to turn talent into performance? What are the enduring secrets to finding, focusing, and keeping talented employees? What are the constants? These were our questions. On the following pages we present our discoveries.
Copyright © 1999 by The Gallup Organization --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition CD .

Revue de presse

"Out of hundreds of books about improving organizational performance, here is one that is based on extensive empirical evidence and a book that focuses on specific actions managers can take to make their organizations better today! In a world in which managing people provides the differentiating advantage, First, Break All the Rules is a must-read."–Jeffrey Pfeffer Professor, Stanford Business School and author of The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First

"This book challenges basic beliefs of great management with powerful evidence and a compelling argument. First, Break All the Rules is essential reading."–Bradbury H. Anderson President and COO, Best Buy

"This is it! With compelling insight backed by powerful Gallup data, Buckingham and Coffman have built the unshakable foundation of effective management. For the first time, a clear pathway has been identified for creating engaged employees and high-performance work units. It has changed the way I approach developing managers. First, Break All the Rules is a critical resource for every front-line supervisor, middle manager, and institutional leader."–Michael W. Morrison Dean, University of Toyota

"First, Break All the Rules is nothing short of revolutionary in its concepts and ideas. It explains why so many traditional notions and practices are counterproductive in business today. Equally important, the book presents a simpler, truer model complete with specific actions that have allowed our organization to achieve significant improvements in productivity, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and profit."–Kevin Cuthbert Vice President, Human Resources, Swissôtel

"Finally, something definitive about what makes for a great workplace."–Harriet Johnson Brackey Miami Herald

"Within the last several years, systems and the Internet have assumed a preeminent role in management thinking, to the detriment of the role of people in the workplace. Buckingham and Coffman prove just how crucial good people -- and specifically great managers -- are to the success of any organization."–Bernie Marcus former Chairman and CEO, Home Depot

"The rational, measurement-based approach, for which Gallup has so long been famous, has increased the tangibility of our intangible assets, as well as our ability to manage them. First, Break All the Rules shows us how."–David P. Norton President, The Balanced Scorecard Collaborative, Inc.; coauthor of The Balanced Scorecard

"As the authors put it, "a great deal of the value of a company lies between the ears of its employees." The key to success is growing that value by listening to and understanding what lies in their hearts -- Mssrs. Buckingham and Coffman have found a direct way to measure and make that critical connection. At Carlson Companies, their skills are helping us become the truly caring company that will succeed in the marketplace of the future."–Marilyn Carlson Nelson President and CEO, Carlson Companies --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition CD .

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Format: Broché
The four keys of success: Select for talent, Define the right outcomes, Focus on strengths, Find the right fit.

Le management basé sur les forces ("strengths") et non sur les faiblesses ("weaknesses").
Ce livre recherche une nouvelle façon de gérer le personnel / les collègues / les participants à un projet.
Il montre que les meilleurs managers ont en commun le fait qu'ils se démarquent du commun, recherchent les talents, les propulsent vers le succès, et leur trouvent la meilleure assignation.

Beaucoup d'idées à méditer, sur nos propres forces et faiblesses, et sur celles des autres, pour une meilleure productivité globale.
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Format: Relié
"First Breal All the Rules" is an adventure in management, and a book I would highly recommend. Being a teacher and counsellor in business management with a lifetime of experience, I can assure you that no matter how much education, training or experience you may have in business, every day is a new learning experience. Or, at least it should be if you want to be successful. The further up the ladder you advance, the tougher the challenge becomes to reach the top. If you are fortunate enough to make the climb, maintaining that position and continuing to grow, requires a whole other set of skills and abilities. The top competitors are always at your heels.
This book is an excellent learning tool for both managers and employees. Managers may very well pick up some surprising pointers on how they could improve their management style, and there must always be room for improvement in everyone's life if we are to achieve our full potential. Employees may develop a better understanding of why managers and supervisors expect what they do from you, which could ultimately make you a better employee as you work your way up the corporate ladder. This book definitely contains "food for thought" and words of wisdom from some very interesting perspectives.
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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Cas concrêts, études théoriques, on dévore ce livre du début à la fin sans se lasser d'apprendre. Je le recommande pour toutes les personnes qui veulent comprendre la place de l'humain par rapport à la productivité d'une entreprise.
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It is a useful book, but not essential.
What you'll get is "act different to shine". Some good advice to get inspired though...
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5 575 commentaires
157 internautes sur 160 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 You don't know what you don't know! 28 juillet 2000
Par Jeff Johnson - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I found this book valuable as it was based on research with over 80,000 managers, not just one person's personal experience. As a manager, the 12 questions that define a great place to work helped me step back and identify what type of environment I am creating for my employees --- or failing to create. Reading the book has led to some very open discussions with my direct reports on those issues. I especially liked the six questions for a review that turn a brief look at past performance into a discussion about what the person needs to do to move forward. I included those questions in my reviews this year.
In our department's people development, we often focused primarily on where people need to improve. The authors gave a different perspective on leveraging strengths and managing around weaker areas.
I also liked the definition of "manager" vs. "leader". Too often management skills are seen as inferior to leadership, yet this book showed that they are separate skill sets. I've got a ways to go with both skill sets, but now have somewhat of a blueprint for how to move forward. This book has helped me look at what I am doing to impact the quality of our work environment.
136 internautes sur 142 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Best set of management tools that I've ever seen! 27 janvier 2000
Par John Villa - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I am a recent MBA grad with 15 years' experience in different company environments. I've worked for Silicon Valley startups, large national corporations, and family-owned businesses.
The scenarios, myths, situations, and other examples in the book are 100% right on! Gallup has put names and descriptions on things that I have lived with for years.
Now a manager at another tech startup, I plan on using this book as a template to grow our company into a vibrant workplace that attracts and KEEPS talented individuals.
I don't understand the reviewers who say they gained nothing from this book. There is a well-documented framework that is not weighted down with technical terminology, and a productive toolset to implement the theory.
I especially appreciated the section on creating Advocates, something that I have been prevented from doing by supervisors in past positions. In my opinion, anyone who does not recognize the business implications of Advocates needs to go back and retake Business 101.
Understanding and measuring "Talent" is what this book is based on, and is worth learning. It is not as "out there" as personality typing, and makes good business sense. Put people where they will naturally do well, and your business and Clients will do well also.
I am a firm believer that employees will do what you pay them to do. Incentive plans are critical in controlling what people do on a daily basis. Here, again, this book makes a lot of sense advising that incentive plans must be tailored to the individual.
I do not climb on many bandwagons, but I will get up on my soapbox about this book.
It is simply the best book I have ever read about managing people and making the most of a workplace. Much has been written about what makes a workplace great. This book tells you how to make YOUR workplace great.
I recommend it without hesitation.
134 internautes sur 142 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Well researched and well presented. All managers must read this book. 10 février 2006
Par Avinash Sharma, The Yogic Manager - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is a well researched book. The authors arrived at their conclusions after analyzing data collected by Gallup over 25 years - using an impressive sample size of 80 thousand managers and 1 million staff from 400 companies. Gallup has used its expertise in survey research to link employee engagement to business performance. The concepts are well explained and presented.
The essence of the findings lie in the 4 Keys of great managers and the 12 Questions that give organizations the information they need to attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees.
The 4 Keys of great managers:
1. Select for talent - the authors define talent as "recurring patterns of behavior" and state that great managers find the match between talents and roles.
2. Define the right outcomes - managers needs to turn talent into performance. This can be done by defining the right outcomes and letting people find their own route toward the outcomes.
3. Focus on strengths - managers need to concentrate on strengths and not on weaknesses.
4. Find the Right Fit - managers need to assign roles to employees that give the employees the greatest chance of success.
The 12 Questions make an excellent list of questions that will be helpful to organizations as well as to employees. The authors group the questions into various categories and explain the importance of each question and group.
I give this book 5 stars because the insights are practical and backed by empirical evidence, and the book is well presented. I was able to apply the concepts immediately. I read this book when I was assigned the role of a team lead. I was able to improve the efficiency of the team by assigning tasks to people based on their individual strengths.
This book has a lot of substance. I am sure I will be referring to it often to make the valuable insights a part of my management style. In addition, it does a good job explaining key business terms that people often take for granted, such as talent, skills, knowledge, etc.
I also like the fact that this book has proven some of Peter Drucker's concepts with scientific research. Here are a couple of examples that are verbatim quotes from "The Essential Drucker" :
Chapter 9 : Picking People - The Basic rules: (page 130):
"... the person and the assignment need to fit each other.",
"... effective executives do not start out by looking at weaknesses. You cannot build performances on weaknesses. You can build only on strengths".
"First Break..." is an excellent book that I recommend as a must read to every manager and anybody interested in management.
41 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A new perspective 13 mars 2004
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Relié
What appealed to me about this book is that it offers a new perspective to succeed in a new world. Today, we have to be able to bend, stretch and flex to reach our goals.
First Break All The Rules gave me a new perspective on management and I am already reaping rewards by implementing new strategy.
Excellent book.
72 internautes sur 79 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Follow the Four Keys and be a Great Manager! 21 juin 2000
Par Shashi Kant - Publié sur
Format: Cassette
(email: )
"First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently" is an excellent book, which will help not only the managers, but all other talented employees as well, who have the potential and will eventually become great managers. This book extols the wonders and potential of human resource development in organizations of all sizes.
The authors, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, based on Gallup's interviews over a period of 25 years with about 1 million staff and 80,000 managers from over 400 companies pinpoint "four keys" to evaluate the performance of an organization in general. This reflects the competence of the managers to get the best in terms of:
-Selecting the staff for talent (not just for experience, which can be acquired and updated with rapid change in technology), -defining the right results expected (and should be clearly understood by the individual), -focusing on strength of employees (leaving scope for their professional growth), and -finding the right fit for all of them.
How much successful the manager is with respect to these four keys, will be reflected in terms of performance in assignments or projects the company has undertaken.
I am a firm believer that employees will do what you pay them to do (in terms of responsibility and recognition, scope for professional growth, appreciation and salary).
The authors reach the conclusion that a company that lacks great frontline managers will bleed talent (or, will produce `talented deadwoods'), no matter how attractive the compensation packages are! Why should a highly motivated employee waste his or her time if a weak employee gets the recognition?
First-line supervisors and managers are the key to our success. They are the vital link between the top management and the staff. What separates the great manager from the mediocre manager is the ability to recognize and develop talented individuals right from the initial point of employment, and the key to finding the right supervisor and manager is in this book!
The book also describes: `The Art of Interviewing for Talent' - 'Which are the right questions to ask?' 'Past performance is indicative of future performance'. But it is a must that assessors are more talented than the candidates are. If you promote or favor an employee mainly for his talents, let everyone else know about his capabilities and achievements over the others. Because it is possible that a group of some mediocre or manipulative managers, for their personal gains, form a cabal and help promoting "pseudo talents" and/or mask actual talents. They may do it by passing incorrect or "selective" information about their subordinates to the top management (or "by dragging and dropping" credits from deserving candidates to the `favored ones'). The book, however, does not explicitly describe how the organization can be saved from such managers. "Favoritism" or "First, Break All the Rules", as advocated in this book, can be even detrimental, and may lead the organization to a vertical collapse. Here top management's role becomes crucial, as the staff may not come out openly due to some apprehension or someone's bad experience in the past. Also, while responding to any survey conducted, based on this book, it may not be suitable to reply those 12 questions just in `yes' or `no'.
Gallup's ideal symbolic manager `Michael' says that a true manager is always in the process of learning new techniques. When asked about his best team, he gives credit to the entire team. This is the crux of success! He says, "A manager has got to remember that he is on stage every day. His people are watching him. Everything he does, everything he says, and the way he says it, sends off clues to his employees. These clues affect performance - never pass the buck, make few promises and keep them all."
This book, written in plain English, tells us how to make our workplace great. I strongly recommend you to read and absorb it.
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